Paul and Gayle are taking a year from their roles in Picton and Belleville and will be teaching at the Maple Leaf International School in Trinidad. We will use this blog to record some of our edventures!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Self Defense Training

Last week, I took the grade 9 and 10 students to "Rough House", a mixed martial arts studio, for 2 days of self defense training. While there are only 5 girls in the class I thought it would be important for everyone to be able to back up some of our "assertiveness" content with some physical training.

Racquel and Chrysta in action
The leader of the sessions was MMA fighter, Adam DaSilva whose main message was RUN, but if you are stuck you need to protect yourself.  He really did a great job explaining how to get out of difficult holds and to take control.

The first session dealt with grappling and the second session was striking. The students were amazed at how, with the right moves, it was possible to get away. They were very surprised at the quality of the workout that they got during the practice sessions. 

I was very pleased with the sessions. One of the girls joined the gym after the first session. She went to the women's training class all week!

Take a look at the pictures and story on Adam's blog.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Hash Baked

You've heard us talk about "Hashing" and we really enjoy it.  Hashes bring something for everyone -- Fast runners, casual joggers, hikers, walkers, even some kids go hashing.  If you just want to go, hang out and drink, that's fine too!

Last Saturday we decided to go on the DDI Hash. DDI is short for Down D' Islands. 

Language Note: North Americans would say "Down To The Islands". However, Trinis tend to drop a word or two as they speak so the "To" is often left out. eg, the students will say to me -- Sir, we going Savannah today?  Ultimately, it is a much more efficient way of speaking! Also, as general rule, "the" is changed to "D'".  This is even the case in formal business names -- There is a roti shop called, "D' Bess Roti". So "Down To The Islands" is "Down D' Islands" or often just "DDI".

DDI refers to a group of small islands off the western coast of Trinidad. Going DDI to weekend at a second home or on a boat is a common pastime. This was our first trip DDI.

As you can see. the hash website said, the boat (not exactly as shown) would be leaving at 8 am SHARP. Our friends picked us up at 7:40, we arrived at 7:50. I will save you the pain.  The boat finally left at 10:10.  Ouch!  Trini-time caught us again. Locals know the routine.

The 10 am boat ride was a loud Soca dance party. I am not 100% certain that everyone on the boat actually went to bed before getting on the boat.  The trip was about an hour and a half.  We arrived to find out that the hash had not yet been set.  So we waited another hour for the "hares" to make the course.

At a little after 1 pm we started our jungle trek through the rain forest.  This island was a leper colony until the 1960's so there were some interesting old buildings, a grave yard and lots of cactus.

As always the run was fun.  I like being part of the lead group. That means you are leading or "Checking" -- trying to find the right trail. It also means that you are at least on the wrong trail for 50% of the time and then you have to catch up! 

After the hash, we swam and Gayle and I hiked a little more.  The boat ride back was an even louder Soca dance party. By this time people had had lots to drink and everyone was having a great time.

Next Hash is Dec. 6. 3:30 pm SHARP.  Don't be late.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

A Weekend in Grenada

I feel a bit like a rockstar poser putting that title: "blah, blah, ... we jetted down to Grenada for the weekend...just had to spend a couple days on our big fancy yacht...met my good friend Keith Richards there..."

So the truth is there were a couple of purposes for our trip. First, our visitor's visa expired on Nov. 15th (our work visas were still being processed when we arrived in August) and our 3 month grace period for driving also ran out. In order to take care of these seemingly small "paper work" items, we would both need to take at least a full day off work.  The system can be quite slow here for some things -- licenses especially.

We figured out that we could leave the country and upon return we'd have our passports stamped properly and we'd be able to drive again! The closest option for foreign travel is Venezuela. Although we can see it from the beach, the 7km swim is just too far and that part of the country is a little "rugged". And, well, it's not overly safe there right now.  The next best option is Grenada, so we decided to make a weekend of it and booked the 40 minute flight.  Luckily, it's not the busy season and one of the all-inclusive resorts was offering a decent sale. Wins all around.

We trekked to the airport on Friday night and were in the air by about 8:45. By 9:45 were checked in and having a late dinner. I created a stir by entering the dining room in my shorts.  Oops! There is a dress code for men after 7pm!

Saturday morning we had a great breakfast that included bacon. It's the first we've had since moving.  Most of the bacon we can buy in Trinidad is turkey or very expensive. I've eaten 3 months worth in one weekend.

After a quick tour of the hotel facilities we could see that the weather wasn't going to be great so we decided to jump on the bus to the local market. We speculated it would be quite busy because we saw a large cruise ship come in around 7 am. Upon arrival, the first of many downpours started and we quickly found the tourist mall that was crowded with visitors from England on a 5 week cruise. There were many souvenir shops, with made in China items stamped with the word Grenada.

When the rain broke we freed ourselves from the mall and were greeted by Herman, a local who was claimed to be the "big man around here". He toured us around St. Georges, the markets, the fort and told us stories of the history of the country. We initially thought about ditching him, but he was really a good guide.  He stayed with us for about an hour and a half and showed us things we'd never have seen without him.

At noon we returned to the hotel and played -- snorkeling, sailing, kayaking, eating for the rest of the weekend. It was so nice to have been able to take a break from school.

Upon our return, our passports were given a shiny new red stamp showing July 2015!

Check out the pictures in the gallery.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

After all, it is an "edventure"

We've been fortunate that most of our experiences here have been great. Some because they were exactly what we expected, some because they weren't. Even when what we're doing hasn't reached the "great" level, we've learned, and therefore it was worth it.

Today was no different.

We started with our normal Sunday routine of an early bike ride to the end of the Diego Martin main road to exercise. They close the road to vehicles so there are just walkers, joggers, cyclists and one superfast speed skater. The rest of the morning we dedicated to getting planning done for the next two weeks since we had plans for the afternoon and next weekend we are going away. Any day I get to skate is a great day, so anything else would be bonus!

At 12:30 we were heading for the Centre of Excellence to see the Pendragon's Magic Show. This was heavily advertised and the price seemed right so we picked up a couple of general admission tickets for $100 each (about $20 CAD). The news paper article suggested that we would see "mind-blowing" effects from "One of the Greatest Magicians Of Our Time".

Here's what lead to our decision: 1. We hadn't been to the Centre of Excellence, so it might be worth a look; 2. This is a big-time magician; 3. The price was right; 4. The trip there would be only about 20 minutes in Sunday traffic; 5. If we're lucky, there will be good snacks; 6. We'd likely be home working if we didn't go.

There was a steady flow of traffic as we pulled in to the parking lot. We noticed that VIP ticket holders had a special parking lot that was further away than everyone else. On the way in we got a free sample of a new yogurt drink and a vendor was just putting burgers on his grill. Things were coming together nicely.

We rounded the corner to the side of the building where the entrance was. We approached the gate and noticed the sign "VVIP" only. After a quick look at our tickets we were ushered along to the next entrance. I looked through the door and saw the scaffolding for the stage. As we walked away from the door near the stage, we passed the VIP entrance and continued passed the “Special Reserve” entrance before we entered the "general admission" doors.

The auditorium was little more than a large barn and our seating area was at least a solid 7 iron from the stage. (Despite the fact that there were about 10 rows at the back of the Special Reserve that weren’t used.) I quickly took a trip to see what food was available as a consolation prize. Chocolate glazed doughnuts made us feel better for a minute or two. Another trip to the vendor for a bucket of popcorn didn’t help at all. We soon learned that the screens intended for our viewing were positioned poorly and did little to enhance the show. The sound was awful. The introductory magician would have been suitable for a 6 year old’s birthday party.

During the intermission, Christmas carols were played. Trinidad is big on Christmas, so this wasn’t all that surprising. We’ve heard Christmas music on the radio and most stores are well decorated already.

The Pendragon show finally started at about 2:30. We lost all hope when the narrator came to the stage and introduced herself as Mother Christmas. After a couple of “tricks” we decided to bail. We walked to the car, drove past the sleeping security guard and hit the road.

Not much fun, but some good learning: 1. Doughnuts are really good; 2. The centre of excellence has an underwater rescue training facility (Cool!); 3. There is a really nice turf soccer field and stadium as well; 4. General admission tickets mean you sit at the “back of the bus”. … 11. They don’t charge for parking … 42. There is a Chinese food restaurant nearby that has a buffet on Wednesdays and Sundays. 43. The barn has a rubberized floor and would be great for speed skating; …

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Trinidad - The Land of the Hummingbird

With Abby in town, we set up a visit to Yerette, the home of Theo and Gloria Ferguson, a Trini couple that have a VERY cool hummingbird sanctuary. It turns out that Trinidad is the home of the hummingbird.

Theo and Gloria have transformed their home gardens into a haven for hummingbirds. They've planted shrubs/flowers to attract the wee little birds, and have about 50 feeders scattered around the small property to feel the birds. Upon our arrival, we were immediately bombarded by dozens of flying acrobats.

We learned tons of amazing hummy facts:
- they are the only birds that can fly backwards, straight up, straight down and hover
- depending on the refraction of light, a hummingbird will appear very different colours
- they have to eat 1-2 times their body weight in nectar per day to get enough energy to sustain themselves
- their pee is odourless and colourless (a blessing according to Theo if it lands on you)
- the resting heart rate of a hummingbird is 500-600 beats per minutes - a human's is 60ish
- the flying heart rate of a hummingbird is 1200 bpm - WOW
- no surprise the heart of the hummingbird is 4 times bigger than a human heart compared to its body size

Check out the pictures in the gallery Paul managed to take. It really doesn't capture the essence of the visit, but trust me, it was very awe inspiring!